Posts Tagged ‘Reason’

By Bosch Fawstin:

Front Page MagazineI wrote this a few years ago, and I think it’s worth posting again, particularly after the latest jihadist attack in Boston. I noticed, after the attack this week, that a number of people are using more proper terminology to identify this enemy, which is very important in taking on the enemy. I recall watching panel discussions after 9/11, with each panelist using a different term to describe the enemy we face. That annoyed the hell out of me as I think it’s incredibly important to identify the proper terms when speaking about our enemy, and to NEVER create terms, for whatever reason. To me, the only difference between “Islamism” and Islam is three letters. Below I try my best to make the case why we should always call Islam “Islam.”

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By Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein

It has been nearly five years since September 11, 2001—the day that Islamic terrorists incinerated thousands of innocent individuals in the freest, wealthiest, happiest, and most powerful nation on earth.

On that day and in the weeks after, we all felt the same things. We felt grief, that we had lost so many who had been so good. We felt anger, at whoever could commit or support such an evil act. We felt disbelief, that the world’s only superpower could let this happen. And we felt fear, from the newfound realization that such evil could rain on any of us. But above all, we felt the desire for overwhelming retaliationagainst whoever was responsible for these atrocities, directly or indirectly, so that no one would dare launch or support such an attack on America ever again.

To conjure up the emotions we felt on 9/11, many intellectuals claim, is dangerous, because it promotes the “simplistic” desire for revenge and casts aside the “complexity” of the factors that led to the 9/11 attacks. But, in fact, the desire for overwhelming retaliation most Americans felt after 9/11—and feel rarely, if ever, now—was the result of an objective conviction: that a truly monstrous evil had been perpetrated, and that if the enemies responsible for the 9/11 attacks were not dealt with decisively, we would suffer the same fate (or worse) again.

After 9/11, our leaders—seemingly sharing our conviction in the necessity of decisive retaliation—promised to do everything possible to make America safe from terrorist attack. In an almost universally applauded speech, President Bush pledged to eradicate the enemy by waging a war that was to begin with Al Qaeda and the Taliban but that would “not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been . . . defeated.” In the same speech, Bush vowed: “I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.”1

To fulfill the promise to defeat the terrorist enemy that struck on 9/11, our leaders would first have to identify who exactly that enemy is and then be willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat him. Let us examine what this would entail, and compare it with the actions that our leaders actually took.

Who is the enemy that attacked on 9/11? It is not “terrorism”—just as our enemy in World War II was not kamikaze strikes or U-boat attacks. Terrorism is a tactic employed by a certain group for a certain cause. That group and, above all, the cause they fight for are our enemy.

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In response to The above video advocating consumerism, specifically as it applies to job creation:

I will begin by saying that propagating false principles and ideas that cater to the fashions of the time is easy in that it can be brief; it takes length to root out the error(s) by catering to people’s reason.  The initial advantage goes to the fashionable, but in the end reason is what “sticks” if people are willing to make the effort to discover what is true and why.

Life is a process of self-generating and self-sustaining actions — look at anything that is alive today and you will see this to be a true principle.  This action translates into human action as production — the self-generated action of man to the production of goods that he requires for sustaining his life.  It is self-sustaining if he produces more than what it costs to produce — i.e., his actions are profitable.

If left alone, man must produce for himself, but once he has a neighbor there can be a division of labor and trade — there “CAN be”, meaning it’s an option.  Both traders can now neglect a certain action that they will trade for; they can now focus on producing more of what they will use to exchange for what the other will make.  This is the formation of the most basic job — of neglecting one thing and creating more of another, in order to exchange at a net gain (or profit) than otherwise would be possible.  Both traders increase their activities in one area — creating the option of a certain action in exchange for wages.  This principle applies throughout a free economy: division of labor and production reorganizes as a trade to the profit of all.

It is true that demand creates an incentive for production, and demand creates an incentive for creating jobs to support production, but without rich entrepreneurs and the super rich, most of those demands would go unfulfilled.  Neither a sea of tears nor an army of guns will create any value that is demanded.

When the rich are starting a business, he creates the option of work that wouldn’t otherwise exist in exchange for wages; and he creates an option to buy a product that wouldn’t otherwise exist in exchange for payment.  It is also true that without others to make use those options, then those options would go unfilled or unbought.  It is safely assumed that people choose, to the best of their ability, the best options for themselves; and if they take a job or buy a product, then it is the best option for them according to them.

If entrepreneurs lack the capital to start a company, they CAN look to others who have capital (the super rich) and create an exchange to the profit of both.  The super rich lending their money is providing a service.  They worked or their relative worked and saved — i.e., withheld their consumption — to acquire that capital.  They earned it, and that is their property by right.

Where entrepreneurs and the super rich get the credit for creation is creating the production and job opportunities that would otherwise not exist, and on top of that they do it in a fashion that is consistent with life — in a self-generating and self-sustaining fashion — i.e., at a profit.  Consumers filling the created job opportunity or consuming the resulting production is not and can never be a function of creation; it can only be the consumption of something that has been created.

It is also said that people create the value that is demanded by demanding that value — demand creates value.  True, things are of value because of demand; however, assuming that individuals want to live, then there will always be demand and a need to produce — the nature of reality and life requires this.

To give credit to people for creating demand where the nature of reality and life is responsible is worse than a contradiction; it’s an evasion of reality.  It amounts to saying that consumers created demand where it would otherwise not exist, and they alone hold power over demand and can turn their demand on or off, instead of realizing that the nature of reality and life is the true source of demand.  The former leads to the fallacy of consumerism and the primacy of consumers, and the later leads to a correct framework for analyzing economics and the primacy of reality.  

Prove me wrong consumers by stop demanding, and with your ceasing of demand goes your ceasing of consumption — do it, stop consuming if you can!  Alas!  A false principle never fails to betray itself.

With a false principle, sprouts false and destructive ideas — like the video suggests.  If consumerism is assumed to be a correct framework, then I agree with the video that it logically leads to taxing the rich and giving it to the middle class and those who consume.  They would be the true source of the value given to production after all.

What would taking from the rich and “investing” in consumers do (analyzing it through a correct framework)?  It violates our first principle that life is a process self-generating and self-sustaining action.  Taxing the rich is a forced acquiring of their profit (remember that profit is the result of their self-generating and self-sustaining action), and giving it to consumers will simply allow consumers to consume in exchange for that money.  The result is the feeding off of self-sustaining and self-generating action to support a “sink hole.”  The ratio/percentage of this siphoning has it’s limit before the entire system cannot be self-sustaining!  Why, in the name of life, would we ever want to move in that direction!

The last objection I have of consumerism is the argument that the rich getting richer will result in a lack of consumers because people will have less money to buy things.  What a tragedy that existence has in store for man when he harms himself buy producing and selling more of what other people want!  We are doomed!  We are doomed to do little for our fellow man or to harm them, and we are doomed to harm ourselves in both cases!

Fortunately existence doesn’t have it out for man and has provided a mechanism to avoid destruction.  The solution is simple — the price mechanism.  The nature of pricing dictates that if the production of goods are up and the amount of money in circulation is down, then the prices of products will necessarily drop provided that trade is left alone by the government or those who would like to initiate the use of force.

Do not get fixated on money — it is deceitful when analyzing economics because it is easy to confuse money for wealth.  Money is a medium of exchange only.  An exchange involving trading a product/service for money is incomplete until that money is in turn exchanged for a product/service.  It is products and services that are the ends and it is production and money that is the means to self-generating and self-sustaining processes — i.e., to life.

What is reason?  What does it mean to be rational or irrational?

Like any muscle, the brain and knowledge can atrophy without use.  More specifically to this case, past lessons learned by intellectual giants — Aristotle (the father of reason’s method), Aquinas (assisted the rebirth of reason), and our founding fathers (who applied reason in forming a country) — have not been taught to new generations; therefore, reason has been forgotten and has become a word which is tied more closely to a feeling or an emotion than to a conceptual understanding of the word.  The vast majority of people do not understand precisely what reason is and why it’s important.  These answers can be reached while studying the branch of philosophy called epistemology — the study knowledge.

Knowledge, if it is to have any meaning, is our grasp and understanding of facts about reality.  So while metaphysics is a branch of philosophy, which studies reality, epistemology is a study of our ability to discover and know reality.  We are able to interact with reality using our senses; eyes to see that which exists, ears to hear it, nose to smell it, tongue to taste it, and skin to touch it.  We have a direct perception of reality, but now what do we do with it?  We know that an object is, but we do not yet know what it is.

Unlike animals, which appear to simply perceive and react, we have the ability to process that information on a conceptual level to determine what that object is and choose our actions.  Our ability to integrate that information into the entire context of what we already know is the nature of our mental faculty.  Reason is that mental faculty, which takes precepts, and identifies and integrates that material. 

Given the nature of reason, we do not and cannot automatically know anything about realty — we are not born with instincts — we must learn.  We are not nor can we be automatically correct either — there is a correct method of coming to correct conclusions and eliminating errors in our thinking.  That correct method is logic, which is the art of non-contradictory identification (of facts about reality).

A contradiction is a thing which is described to have at least two attributes which cannot coexist.  Written mathematically, a thing which is A and non-A at the same time in the same respect — e.g., a leaf which is all green and all red at the same time.  Red is non-green and green is non-red, so the leaf is green and non-green, as well as red and non-red, at the same time (the same respect being color) — that’s impossible.

The law of non-contradiction is a corollary of the law of identity, which simply states a thing is itself.  Written mathematically, A is A.  If A is A, then A cannot be B unless B is a subset of A — meaning, A includes B — otherwise, it would be a contradiction.  For example, a particular leaf is a certain type of entity with certain attributes; it will have a shape, color, texture, and many other attributes that represent the facts about that leaf.  When you select a different leaf, it will have many similarities, but it will have differences too.  All the characteristics of one leaf cannot be the same as another leaf — something must be different because each leaf has its own identity.  When you select, say a refrigerator instead of a leaf, there will be very few similarities and many differences.  The law of identity simply focuses on the entities existence — we know that it exists — which posses certain attributes and they will not contradict — that is the answer to what it is.

Logic, being the art of non-contradictory identification, means it’s the proper application of the law of identity, which means the proper identification of what the facts about reality are.  Any contradiction reached in a process of thinking is the same as admitting an error, which means an improper identification of the facts about reality, since contradictions do not exist.

Given all of the above, we can define more precisely what our terms mean.  Reason is that mental faculty, which takes precepts, and correctly identifies and integrates that material through the correct application of the law of identity — the term correct, which was implicit, is now made explicit.  To be rational is the act of using reason.  Non-reason is the attempt to use your mental faculty other than that of reason, which  is attempts to identify and integrate material though any means other than using precepts and the correct application of the law of identity.  To be Irrational is the act of using non-reason.

Now that we know what reason is, why is it important?  In short, it is our only means to knowledge. Knowledge, if you remember, is our grasp and understanding of facts about reality.  (It is implicit and understood that they are correct grasps of reality).  You can claim to grasp and understand, but that does not mean you do.  Without the use of reason, understanding of facts of reality is impossible. 

To put this to the test, let’s suppose we flip a coin; how will you determine if it lands heads or tails?  You will use your senses to perceive the coin and apply the law of identity to limit the outcome to one solution — either it landed heads or tails, but not both at the same time.  Now let’s use this example, but suppose you can’t use your senses.  Can you grasp the facts of reality to determine an outcome – no, you cannot.  You could guess, but how would you validate your guess without the use of reason (in this case, without your senses)?  Now let’s suppose, instead of not using your senses, you improperly apply the law of identity; so it landed heads and you see heads, but you think tails instead.  Again, you did not arrive at the proper understanding of the facts of reality — you made an error somewhere in your thinking.

You may be asking, so what?  Why are any of these simple things important?  Well, the answer is simple: this process is as true for complex things as it is for simple things — the parts cannot contradict the whole.  Reason is our means to understand simple or complex facts about reality.  Once you grasp a firm, complete, precise understanding of what reason is and why it’s important, then you can continue to discover facts about reality in more complex branches of philosophy, such as ethics (the study of how man should act) or politics (the study of how man should act in a social context).  Just remember though, contradictions do not exist.

Whatever you may think you know or may ever hope to know, keep the following in mind: contradictions do not exist.  Most people, who exercise some capacity of rational thought, understand that absolute.  Just to be clear about reason; it is our metal faculty which takes our precepts and integrates that information within the entire context of our existing knowledge in a non-contradictory manner.  The issue is, however, when we think we’re facing a contradiction, our default assumption is to eliminate the new information — that is an error.

 Man is capable of error, so when facing a contradiction, wouldn’t it be prudent to challenge what you already know on a rational standard to see if you made an error?  What’s the worst that could happen?  You continue to revalidate your initial assumptions based on rational standards?  What’s the best that could happen?  You discover an error in your thinking and you correct it.  (The value in correcting one’s thinking should be plain).

 To guide your thinking, become familiar with the Laws of Thought: Law of Identity, Law of Excluded Middle, and Law of Non-Contradiction.  Why?  Most understand, at least implicitly, the Primacy of Existence; the next logical step is conforming your thoughts to Law of Identity — i.e., the Supremacy of Reason — the result being the elimination of any contradictions that may exist in your thinking.

 We know through observation, and the Law of Identity as applied to man, that man must use reason to survive — reason is man’s basic tool of survival qua man.  Man must create material values (route water, plant and grow food, build shelters, etc.) to survive; values do not preexist for him — he lacks claws for defense, fur or hide for warmth or protection, and preexisting knowledge to serve as instinct.  Any form of creation, from tools to a skyscraper, requires a process of thought – “what is it that I want to achieve, and how do I do it”? 

 In determining how do accomplish something, man must determine the identity of certain objects.  In something as simple as planting, for example, he has to understand that the identity of plants obligates certain requirements for the plant to flourish — the roots must be buried in dirt with plenty of nutrients, the leaves must have access to an adequate amount of photons, and the plant requires access to the right amount of water.  Man must discover how to accomplish these tasks and in what order.  None of this can be achieved by a process of non-thinking, and most importantly, none of his thinking can be effective unless he accurately identifies the facts of reality — i.e. he thinks rationally — and acts accordingly.

 In the spirit of rooting out contradictions, perhaps the most important historical tenant, that is taken as an absolute, which requires challenging on a rational standard, is the principle of otherism — i.e. altruism.  Why is altruism accepted without question?  Is it because altruism has no rational foundation?  Why is questioning altruism — i.e. using your rational faculty to challenge it — considered inhumane?  Isn’t rational thought, as we observed, necessarily a human requirement?  So, thought is obligatory in creating values, but the absence of thought is obligatory in how to dispose of those values? 

 And therein lays the contradiction: man’s identity obligates rational thought, while altruism (thus far) obligates its absence — how can it be obligatory to think and not to think?  If you wish to eliminate every contradiction in your thinking, then altruism either requires a rational foundation or it’s patently false.  Use this opportunity to start your rational journey into the field of ethics, root out the error, and eliminate the contradiction — whatever it may be. 

 Let’s hear what you discovered.  Does a rational foundation exist for altruism or is it doomed as irrational?  You might be wondering what could possibly replace altruism.  Catch a glimpse of it here.

“But the theory that rights come from God is hopeless. To begin with, there is no evidence for the existence of such a being, much less for the existence of rights that somehow emanate from his will. Whether one believes in God is beside the point here. Either way, the fact remains that there is no evidence for God’s existence, which is why it is supposed to be accepted on faith—in the absence of evidence. Rights in support of which there is no evidence are not rights but fantasies…

“…To say that rights come from God is to say that there is no evidence in support of their existence, that there is no basis for them in perceptual reality, that they are not rationally provable. This is not a sound theory of rights; it cannot serve as a solid foundation on which to advocate or defend liberty…” [Continued]

“Altruism holds that being moral consists in self-sacrificially serving others. Despite its self-destructive nature, altruism is accepted to some extent by almost everyone today. Of course, no one upholds it consistently—at least not for long. Rather, most people accept it as true—and then cheat on it.

“All religionists—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—are altruists. Their holy books demand it. All so-called “Secular Humanists”—Utilitarians, Postmodernists, and Egalitarians—are altruists. Their philosophies demand it.

“From the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim points of view…” [Continued]